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Health Aff (Millwood). 2009 May-Jun;28(3):637-48. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.28.3.637.

Better but not best: recent trends in the well-being of the mentally ill.

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  • 1Health Policy and Management, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York City, USA.


Mental illness and its treatment are largely invisible. We use multiple publicly available data sources to evaluate changes in the well-being of Americans with mental illnesses over the past decade. We find that access to care, including specialty psychiatric and inpatient care, and financial protection have improved. However, not all people with mental health problems have shared in these improvements. Access to care among those with mental health impairments appears to have declined, and we estimate that because of continued increases in incarceration, at least 7 percent of the population with serious and persistent mental illnesses are incarcerated in jail or prison each year.

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